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Last updated on July 23rd, 2017 at 01:54 pm
For the first time I was told how it actually happened, because one of the people involved in the attack is still alive and in captivity, and has told the police his version of what happened. What I have been told was that there was a group of Al-Qaeda members travelling to North Riyadh from South Riyadh for a meeting with Abdul Aziz Isa Al-Muqrin. They met him and were moving to a safe house when they saw us filming in the streets. They then decided that they would kill us.
A man called Faisal Al-Dakheel gave the orders to kill us, and the first person I saw get out of the car was a man called Abdullah Al-Subaie, who was killed in December of last year in the attack on the Ministry of Interior. I remember very clearly that he got out of the car, and he came up to me smiling and said “Asalam Alaykum” and I said to him “Alaikum asalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu”, he then took out a gun and shot me.
For me, someone with a degree in Islamic studies, who respects Islam and has a great love of the Arab world, this was one of the worst moments of my life. To have somebody say “Asalam alyakum” and then shoot you, that was a terrible thing. I have spent so much of my life telling people that Muslims are good people, that there are genuine grievances in the Arab world, that you can understand why people are angry when they look at Iraq and Palestine, but that does not mean that Muslims are violent people, and then for something like that to happen is a terrible thing.
When the satellite channels were new, they needed to get an audience and establish a brand name. A high profile example is Al Jazeera airing the Bin Laden tapes in late 2001. At first, the channel aired them almost unedited. They did not question what he was saying, which led to enormous pressure and criticism from the United States.
Al Jazeera, I believe, resisted that pressure, but assembled a panel of experts to discuss the content of the tapes, and began to limit what was being aired. I understand that what we see aired on Al Jazeera is just a small amount of what Al-Qaeda has sent them, mostly because the content is too inflammatory. Therefore, I think they have grown up quite quickly, and I don’t mean that in a patronizing way. They had tremendous success, but the effect of some of their coverage has been quite negative in the Arab world.
During the Iraq war, most of Al Jazeera’s coverage started by showing the suffering of civilians. Their coverage showed bleeding babies in the market place, but from what I understand that terrible scene in the market place was actually due to a faulty Iraqi anti-aircraft missile. I still do not know if this was true or not, but everybody in the Arab media jumped to the conclusion that it was an American missile strike.
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